Thief missed court date after he suffered a fractured skull and broken arm in a fall

A thief from South Tyneside forgot to attend for his day in court after ‘he did genuinely overlook the date’

Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 11:05 am

Gary MacLean, 55, of Havelock Street, South Shields, had fractured his skull and broken his arm in a fall, a court heard.

It meant he failed to be at his sentencing hearing because his accident meant he had other things on his mind, his solicitor told South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

Val Bell said MacLean’s non-appearance error was genuine – and he had his left arm in a sling when he appeared in the dock six days late.

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South Tyneside Magistrates' Court. Picture by FRANK REID

She said: “He did hand himself in to police.

“He did genuinely overlook the date. He’d had a fall and fractured his skull and broken his arm. It slipped his mind.

“It’s an un-aggravated shop theft. The theft was committed because he had no money.”

MacLean had previously admitted stealing £147 of food and other groceries from Asda’s Benton branch in Newcastle on Tuesday, February 18, and the case was adjourned for probation reports to be prepared.

At his latest hearing, it was said he was penniless and intended to either keep the goods or sell on to make some cash.

The stash was recovered, and Asda made no claim for compensation against jobless MacLean.

Prosecutor John Garside said: “It’s a straightforward theft from a shop. He had no money at that time. He would have used the items or sold them.”

MacLean had been due for sentencing on Friday, March 20, but had by then incurred his injury.

When he finally appeared before the court for sentencing, he also admitted a charge of failing to surrender to custody.

For the offences, District Judge Kathryn Meek handed him a 12-month conditional discharge and he must pay a £21 victim surcharge.

She told him: “A conditional discharge puts you on notice.”

The court also heard MacLean is due to be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday, April 6, for arson.

He has previously pleaded guilty to torching a car in a police compound.